Get off your High Horse

In case you missed it, Andy Pettitte issued an apology for having used HGH for two days while on the disabled list years ago. The media has taken Pettitte to task over it which is really a shame for a number of reasons, some of which I touched on a few days ago when I made a case for Pettitte.

Today we get this, courtesy of Jemele Hill at espn.com:

I’m confused. Was Andy Pettitte’s admission that he used human growth hormone supposed to be an apology, or an insult to everybody’s intelligence?

You know what’s an insult to my intelligence? The fact that this article is on espn.com. And the person writing it does not understand what HGH is. I’m insulted.

It came off as the latter — as something so disingenuous, it’s laughable. It’s hard to take any apology seriously when it contains this loaded statement: “If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize. I accept responsibility for those two days.”

If what I did? Way to be contrite, Andy. Sorry, but this was more than an error in judgment. This isn’t throwing to third base when the play was at first. This is your credibility and your reputation.

No, this is precisely an error of judgment. “This” isn’t credibility and reputation. Because that doesn’t really make sense. If its worse than an error in judgment, you’d have to be talking about a malicious act. Taking an unknown prescription drug to try and heal a part of your body is not malicious.

Some people are racing to pat Pettitte on the back for being one of three players thus far to fall on their swords after being fingered in the Mitchell report.

Now this is just excellent. Nice job creating your own argument. As far as I know, no one is running to pat Pettitte on the back. It’s fun to write like that though. Let me try.

Some people are saying that Julio Lugo was the best hitter in the American League last year. I say those people are wrong. He only had an OBP of 294! He’s terrible!

But Pettitte’s apology for taking HGH is totally meaningless, and the excuses he offers for his misdeed rank right up there with, “I was just smoking weed for my glaucoma.”

And what are you basing this excuse ranking system on? What MLB player has used glaucoma as an excuse?

Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported that former Yankee Jason Grimsley told the feds Pettitte was one of the players who used performance-enhancing drugs. This is how Pettitte responded to that allegation at the time: “I haven’t done anything,” he said. “I guess reports are saying I’ve used performance-enhancing drugs. I’ve never used any drugs to enhance my performance in baseball before. I don’t know what else to say except it’s embarrassing my name would be out there.”

First off, HGH has just recently been lumped in with PEDs. It is not a steroid. When Pettitte tried it, it was something prescribed by doctors to help heal tissue.

Now Pettitte wants us to believe he took HGH only twice in 2002, and only because he wanted to heal faster for his team’s sake?

Riiiiiighhhhttt.

The only thing Pettitte has demonstrated is that he can lie under duress and then craft an apology that would make any public relations expert proud.

This is the worst part of this article because stupid people who read espn.com are going to agree. “That’s right, we’re not stupid, we know Pettitte is a liar and a big time drug user!”

But you see what Pettitte wants us to believe the the same damn thing it says he did on the Mitchell Report. But it is nice of you to allude to other transgressions. What else did he do? And how do you know? See, when you make claims about someone doing something illegal, you’re supposed to have proof.

Already the apologists are circling around Pettitte,

Just like those damn Lugo apologists, also buzzing around. I don’t care, Lugo is awful!

just as they circled around Rick Ankiel, who got a free pass because he supposedly used HGH following an injury. For some reason, that’s been framed as selfless, even though the end goal is no different than anyone else’s.

I don’t think anyone has ever said it is selfless. The point is it is different. I know everyone likes to pretend that right and wrong in the sports world is black and white. But it’s not. Andy Pettitte or Rick Ankiel taking a prescription drug illegally to try to heal is different than an athlete loading up on testosterone so that he can make his body do things it would never be capable of doing. Especially when you consider that the drug Pettitte and Ankiel tried was not considered at the time to be a PED.

Most of us, when trying to heal, go to doctors, who prescribe us legal medication. We don’t go to strength trainers. The reason Pettitte went to Brian McNamee, a trainer he shared with Roger Clemens, is because he knew no doctor would ever prescribe him HGH.

“I wasn’t looking for an edge. I was looking to heal,” Pettitte said.

Sure. And an alcoholic puts whiskey in his/her morning cup of coffee only to prevent the shakes.

So now Pettitte is some sort of addict? Gotcha.

There are a lot of legal things that can make you heal faster. But Pettitte happened to pick the one healing remedy that has side effects that reportedly include creating new muscle cells, reducing body fat and strengthening bone mineralization. But Pettitte made HGH sound as benign as extra-strength Tylenol.

That’s great that you’ve done some research. But the problem here is most of that stuff you’ve mentioned? It’s still “reportedly” because no one is quite sure. But I guess Pettitte should have known all this years ago.

Athletes are taking HGH like it’s candy because they’re addicted to how it transforms them. They are risking their careers and their reputations because the payoff is potentially huge. HGH may help extend careers, making it possible for pitchers like Pettitte to stay powerful into their late 30s and 40s. Yet we’re supposed to believe Pettitte is the one athlete on Earth who, despite knowing the drug’s power, had the self-control to use it for just two days?

Riiiiiighhhhttt.

Wow. So you are alluding to Pettitte being an addict. Nice. Yeah, Pettitte is addicted to HGH because he wants it to extend his career so he can keep making money. He is so greedy. Wait, he almost retired last year? And this year the Yankees had to beg him to come back because he wanted to be with his family? How strange.

Every athlete who has admitted using performance-enhancing drugs has a sob story about it, but it usually boils down to a few simple self-serving goals. They want to play. They want to defy nature. They want to be loved. They want to keep their spoils and add more. Pettitte, who put off retirement earlier this month to sign a one-year, $16 million deal with the Yankees, is no different.

Let me be the first to say: Pettitte is different. You even just said “put off retirement.” Maybe we could sum up your argument best like this: “Pettitte, who is not concerned with a long team deal and is considering retirement despite his young age, wants to pitch into his 40s so he can sign numerous big money deals.”

If Pettitte wanted to know how to craft a real apology, he should have listened to former major-league outfielder F.P. Santangelo, who was also named in the Mitchell report. Santangelo, now a morning sports talk show host in Sacramento, didn’t offer up carefully-crafted denials and empty apologies. He owned it, apologizing on the air to his children, ex-wife, parents and listeners. His anguish was real and human.

“I don’t want to be this out-front crusader guy,” Santangelo told ESPN.com’s Wayne Drehs. “I did something absolutely wrong. I shouldn’t be made a hero. I made a bad decision against everything I believe.

But you see, there lies the problem: Pettitte doesn’t necessarily think what he did was absolutely wrong. And I agree. Yes, I know, you know, everyone knows, that taking a prescription drug not prescribed to you is illegal. But are you saying you’ve never done that? You’ve never done anything that is technically illegal?

Pettitte attempted to explain exactly what he did. But the media is incapable of seeing this as anything other than a right or wrong issue. They want blood. He wasn’t out there molesting children; he tried a drug for 2 days to make his elbow stop hurting.


Get off that high horse!

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4 responses to “Get off your High Horse

  1. Sup Brian,

    I have to disagree with your charecterization of Andy Pettitte’s use of HGH as harmless to his record, his career, and major league baseball.
    Pettitte admits to having taken HGH to rehab an injury. HGH was not a PED at the time, but Pettitte did not go through the normal channels, i.e. a doctor, to recieve a prescription. He broke the law. He went to a trainer of dubious ethical constraints and illegally obtained a substance in order to get back to playing baseball. I don’t care if he just wanted to get back “for the the team’s sake”, he used an illegally obtained substance to accomplish it, and circumvented the normal procedure in order to get it.
    So, how does this hurt his record, his legacy, and baseball? Simple. He used illegal means to do “make his body do what it was never capable of doing.” HGH helps the body heal and improve much faster than its capable of. So he was back in the line up faster than some Joe who took tylenol and followed his doctor’s orders. He was able to contribute to a Yankees team that, I may recall, weren’t doing poorly, and in which Pettitte went 13-5. As for baseball, he perpetuates either the pathetic excuse or the simple mindset, which ever you choose to believe, that takeing something without a script that you don’t understand what it is, is just okey dokey. How many people, cough-cough BARRY, have argued they didn’t know what they were taking? Really? So many millions to use your body and you don’t care what goes into it? But that’s just speculation. Maybe Pettitte was naive.
    I applaud that Andy had the stones to fess up, even if it was a half assed, I didn’t…oh maybe I did…kinda job. I just don’t think you can write it off as inconsequential.

    And lay off Julio Lugo.

  2. I don’t think Pettitte has waffled as to what he did. He has simply not said concretely if what he did was an error of judgment.

    You make a good point, but I think the major thing that I have taken umbrage with is Pettitte being portrayed as a greedy cheater. Assuming that his admission means he is really hiding numerous other crimes is unfair.

    And as far as HGH is concerned, I think athletes are always trying to find supplements to give them the edge. If HGH had not been eventually considered a PED, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Nobody would care if Pettitte was illegally taking Vicodin to kill the pain, though it would be “equally illegal,” if such a term exists.

    Oh, and I don’t have anything against Lugo. I support all Red Sox players with sub .300 OBPs.

  3. Thanks Brian,

    I do agree with you about the money aspect being a real far reach. Unfortunately, with Pettitte being one of the “big names” on the report, it seems any stick is good enough to beat him with, even if its a ridiculous as the money angle. He was going to retire. He admits to HGH 5+ years ago now. I doubt he was thinking about how much money he could make to stay on to help a struggling bullpen in 2008 when his elbow was bugging him in 2002.

    And, yeah, Lugo’s OBP sucks, but hey, he looks like Count Chockula’s twin brother. Who doesn’t have fond memories of that cereal? Communists, that’s who.

  4. In my expert legal opinion, the Hill article is the most egregious piece of shit I have read in a long time. Hill thinks that Pettitte’s story – he used HGH, but only for two days in an attempt to recover from an injury – is not credible. And in support of that argument, she offers highly compelling facts and reasoning such as “Riiiiiighhhhttt” and “he is as big a liar as those drunken glaucoma patients” (paraphrasing).

    Hill makes a big to-do about Pettitte’s earlier “denial” of PED use. But what he actually said was “I’ve never used any drugs to enhance my performance.” Since he has only admitted using HGH to come back from an injury, there is no contradiction. (The other statement about not having done anything is so vague that I would argue it hasn’t been contradicted either.) He wasn’t trying to enhance his performance, just get back to his normal, uninjured level.

    The argument that no human being could have the willpower to quit using HGH after only two days is completely unsupported. What are the addictive properties of HGH, if any? What sort of effects is a person likely to see after just two days? That is the kind of information a legitimate critique of Pettitte’s story would provide. The general consensus is that most baseball players had the willpower to avoid using PEDs at all. According to Mitchell, one player went so far as to buy steroids but then got cold feet and threw them out without using any. Given all that, why is it not believable that a person would dabble in HGH briefly and then stop? People try things just once or twice all the time.

    The closest Hill comes to having a valid point is in noting that Pettitte’s statement “If what I did was an error in judgment on my part, I apologize” is a bit of a wishy-washy borderline non-apology. (You know the kind: “If people misconstrued my words so as to take offense, I regret it,” etc.) It would have sounded better and been more respectable without the “if.” But as celebrity apologies go, this was still a decent one: he took responsibility, and although qualifying them, said the words “I apologize.”

    Finally, it seems that Hill is just as poor a reader as she is a writer, since she didn’t seem to notice that F.P. Santangelo’s “apology,” which she holds up as THE model statement of contrition, doesn’t contain the words “I apologize,” “I’m sorry,” or any variation thereon.

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